In the middle of the Indian ocean at the southern part of the Maldives in the Gaafu Alifu Atoll, there is an island secluded from the rest. It is a small island that only takes 20 minutes to walk the shores in its entirety on the white powder soft sand. Surrounding the island is the most lush untouched coral reef with colorful fish, clownfish and their anemones, harmless sharks and an abundance of corals for miles in every direction… unlike many reef spots in the Maldives. It really is a coral reef enthusiasts dream.
On top of this island built in harmony with its resident animals and sea creatures is the Park Hyatt Hadahaa. Known for their romantic seclusion, their spectacular coral reef, and as the most self sustaining & Eco-friendly resort in the Maldives. Only 51 rooms at a time, this is a very secluded and intimate resort. Dare I say the most romantic, we look around and see a few honeymooners, people like us here to unwind, and even families with children. Although there are only a few children at a time, this resort is very safe and family friendly. Young children would wander and explore the beaches by themselves…such a safe place for kids to be themselves. At full capacity the resort still feels very secluded, much more so than other places in the Maldives we have visited. After a few days you begin to see familiar faces at the bar or restaurant building relationships and meeting like minded people during your stay.
While we were here we stayed a total of 6 nights. Half of the time in the Park Pool Villa (Room #19) & the final half in the Water Villa (Room #50).
Park Water Villa #50 & #51: Everyone going to the Maldives must stay in a overwater villa at least once. It’s almost as if the room is floating on the ocean…with no sea sickness! The room was quite large and spacious with a clean modern look. Half of the walls are glass sliding doors, but you don’t feel exposed due to the seclusion and design. From your bedroom, bathroom, and the deck it’s easy to sit there for hours gazing at the waves and watching the sunsets as the ocean and the sky turn from orange to pink. The Park Water Villa like everything else here features contemporary and tasteful design familiar of the Park Hyatt Brand. The rooms feature surround sound, a DVD player, iPad, perfectly located charging stations, 37″ LCD among many other creature comforts. You have a a large soaking tub and separate rain shower area as well. Just about everything you need is in the room. But on the down side the water villa room was a bit warm at times (especially if you are sunburnt), the internet connection was off and on when it rained, and the waves were noisy when it got rough.
Park Pool Villa #19 & #20: Although the Water Villa had the more exclusive feel and cost more, we actually preferred the Pool Villa. The difference between the rooms is the Pool Villa includes a luxurious indoor and outdoor shower & bath tub, your own infinity pool, and direct beach access steps from your door. Every morning we’d wake up early to walk straight out our private path to the beach and watch the sunrise. Imagine walking around the island and seeing no one! It was like our very own private island at times. Just snorkeling out from our Pool Villa’s shore was beautiful reef creatures, colorful fishes, and even friendly sharks. The infinity pool is shallow enough for children, but I loved having it there to rinse off after swimming in the ocean. The only downside to the Park Pool Villa #19 was a 5 minute walk to the resort facilities, the resort also offers a comfortable electric cart service if you choose not to walk. Other than that we were absolutely content.
Like all resorts in the Maldives food is expensive due to transportation costs. So, if you are a heavy eater consider purchasing the full board or half board meal plans which can save you money. There is a good sized selection of cuisine available. The management is focusing on making this resort a foodie destination but they do have room to improve, with access to fresh seafood the menu selection should be a bit better and allow for a few more preparations. The Park Hyatt Maldives even has their own hydroponic veggie and herb garden. As for the cocktails, they are made by professional bartenders some who worked at 5 star resorts in Dubai, most importantly they taste before they serve which is something you don’t get at the other more crowded destinations here in the Maldives. Feel free to ask them to make it strong as drinks do come at a premium here.
The dining room is beautiful and spacious serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. However we enjoyed eating meals or just having drinks and smoking shisha at the Pool Lounge for a relaxed feel and beautiful views of the resort. The Island Grill is open at night for dinners and special events for featured food like Island BBQ & authentic Maldivian cuisine.
Snorkeling: Their house reef is great for snorkeling, really really great for both snorkel and scuba. It’s also safe and there is often staff watching from the jetty. We seen a mom and her young children all with life vests exploring the sea creatures. Her children were so excited afterward showing me their pictures of the turtles, sharks, fish, and many types of coral. You are able to snorkel any time of the day including sunrise to swim with the sharks feeding on the schools of sardines in the thousands and during a time when the fish and coral activity is high. Also sunset snorkeling is great to see a totally different perspective under and above water.
Scuba diving: The Gaafu Alifu Atoll is known to contain the most abundant, untouched, lively coral reefs in all of the Maldives. We were totally spoiled by the huge colonies and abundance of both hard/soft corals and fish that the Park Hyatt Hadahaa’s atoll had to offer. No signs of any major bleaching unlike a few other spots in the Maldives. This is the best house reef I’ve seen in the Maldives, there are 30-40 dive sites you can visit from this resort, some even named after the staff who discovered them! The hotel’s overall design and conservational efforts had/have a minimal impact giving you healthy natural reef formations. We also spoke with several experienced divers who said that the coral spots we explored rivaled that of the Red Sea yet it has luxury accommodations that the Red Sea was lacking. They offer PADI scuba certification for beginners. And if you already have your certification, I highly recommend becoming an advanced diver at the resort because you get to do your certification dives in the most beautiful surroundings.
For more information about their coral reef, look at this link. These are all above average dive spots compared to other spots in the Maldives. In fact research by the Marine Conservation Society UK and Reef Check found Hadahaa house reef to have the highest percentage coral cover out of all of the reefs surveyed during a nation wide exhibition in 2009. In 2013 this very resort won best house reef in the Maldives by MATATO. Surveys were carried out in six atolls stretching from Ha Dalluu in the north to Addu in the south.
If you want to see how the locals do dinner, book the Sunset fishing trip. There is fish everywhere in the ocean so it is almost guaranteed you’ll catch something. Then they’ll prepare it for you by the fire as you relax look at the stars and have drinks. Anything you want can be delivered such as a Private island dinner, photo shoot, dolphin excursion, or even catch a speedboat to the equator. If you’re looking for parasailing or jet ski’s this is not the place. The coral reef and the environment is the top priority and rightfully so. Other resorts have motorized water vehicles and as fun as they are you should see that as a red flag that the reef isn’t in the it’s best shape.
The resort has its grand main pool that flows out to perfectly soft sand then into clear calm waters and just beyond that a sunset beyond amazing almost every evening. You will find your restaurants nearby and the most stunning bar. Everything is designed so well and clean here. It’s minimal, clean, simple, luxurious, contemporary and sexy. It’s a very classy secluded romantic spot. Perfect destination especially if you snorkel or scuba. If you don’t you can still go absolutely bonkers at the Vidhun Spa with its expansive list of tropical treatments. If your going to be here for 5 or more days consider splurging and getting the 3 day, 2 hour per day package of rituals to totally unwind and lose your mind, spread out over a week I can’t think of a better place on earth to relax. Tropical Facials, Wraps, Scrubs, Massages, you name it the Vidhun Spa has a larger list than most Spa’s, anywhere.
You have 3 ways to eat here, your daily breakfast & lunch spot is called The Dining Room It’s great with a mix of Maldivian dishes as well as Asia and international inspired dishes, The next more upscale restaurant is called The Island Grill the dishes here are a step up they serve more seafood, steaks, Maldivian inspired dishes, this is the spot that often has fantastic dinner events going on. Then finally you have your In-Villa Dining also known as room service which has nice selection and if anything isn’t listed you can always ask chef to prepare it. If you are someone who needs to be active the entire day and you don’t enjoy the ocean I’m not sure anywhere in the Maldives is for you, but if you have a curiosity of the sea and desire time to un plug your brain and just enjoy relaxing then this is the spot to be.
The staff personalities really do shine through here so get to know them during your stay. We’ve been to other resorts in the Maldives and prefer the more authentic Maldivian & International hospitality that the Park Hyatt team has to offer. There is also the best staff to guest ratio going on here. It’s always a fine line of getting what you want versus privacy. That’s important to consider on a vacation like this… I personally want privacy. I can call if I need anything… At the PHM you have your own personal butler service. It’s a dedicated agent that meets the needs of 4-5 couples at a time. Your agent’s job is to make sure you are having a fantastic stay and that everything is handled for you. He takes care of any concerns you may have, so make sure you use this included service and have his cell number handy at all times. He or She will greet you every day and again in the evening. They fully prepare your transportation so you catch your flights without problem, and that is no easy task because in the Maldives leaving and arriving is often at the mercy of Maldivian air and/or what goes on at the airport. At any resort in the Maldives one must be flexible, and understand that The Park Hyatt staff’s biggest concern is that you make all your boat, flight, and connecting flights out of Male safely and on time.
If you are happy about the staff service don’t forget to tip them. The hotel does levy a service charge of 10% on food and beverage which is very fair considering what it takes to make things work out here. The 10% gratuity and anything you add to a signed bill is split up across most of the staff while any cash you hand them personally only goes to the person who it’s handed to. 1 Maldivian Rufiyaa equals $0.065 USD. A good personal tip for any service in my opinion was 100 Rufiyaa which is $6.50 USD.
Distinctions and Awards
For a resort that has only been open since 2009 the Park Hyatt Maldives is making waves internationally, It’s been recently quadruple nominated for 2013 Most Romantic Resort, Leading Corporate Social Responsibility Resort, Leading Eco Resort and Leading Dive Resort by Matato Travel Awards and won Best House Reef. On top of that they also carry the following accolades: 2012 Silver EarthCheck Certification 2012 Green GOOD DESIGN Award 2012 Qualified member of Ecoluxury 2012 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award 2013 International Hotel Awards: Best Sustainable Hotel in Asia Pacific
Ecoluxury at its Best
Don’t be afraid. I know what many conclude to when hearing the word Eco in front of anything and I assure you that you cannot tell the Park Hyatt is the top Eco-luxury resort in the Maldives until they take you on a fascinating back of house tour. Without that tour the only clue you may see is that they do a great job at minimizing paper use by giving each room an iPad with an exclusive app that displays the menu, activities, treatments and a much more. You can install it on your own IPad before you arrive or just use the in room complimentary IPad you can get that App now at the Apple app store by “clicking here”. We downloaded it a few months before arriving and knew where and how we wanted to spend our time on the island. It’s a great way to kill time during the many hours you spend getting to the Maldives.
I highly suggest the back of house tour. First of all, the back of house is an area hidden in the center of the island, guests have no idea where it’s at. This is a big deal as with many other resorts in the Maldives they usually cut off access to a corner of the island to reserve for staff, garbage, etc.. Not here. You can walk all the way around the island and almost through the middle not hearing or finding it. It’s really the heart of the resort that handles energy, waste, water purification, laundry and repairs. It is also where the administrative offices and the staff live. Do the tour, it’s eye-opening and will help you understand the Park Hyatt Hadahaa difference.
- Stay here about a week especially if you want to explore the many coral reefs and the underwater world.
- Plan to arrive early. It can take 3-4 hours to arrive from Male airport, so plan a morning arrival to Male.
- The best Park Pool Villas are #18, #19, #20 perfect for watching the sunrise.
- The best Park Water Villas are #49, #50, #51 perfect for watching the sunset.
- Closest rooms to the Facilities are #34, #35, #36
- You don’t need to withdraw Maldivian money at the airport.
- Bring your own mask, snorkel & fins to explore the house reef for free.
- Scuba Divers: Consider getting advanced certification. Plan your dives early in the trip and snorkel the last day as there are no dives within 24 hours of leaving.
- Photographers: Dawn jetty is the best view of sunrise. Dusk jetty is the best view for sunset. The beach left of the Water villas are the best photo op of those villas. Beautiful sunset shots are on the beach next to the Pool Lounge.
- Witness every sunrise and sunset… they are all different and equally beautiful.
- Walk around the island during sunrise… I’m sure the jet lag will make getting up easy!
- Honeymooners want to be alone, but befriend other travelers over cocktails.
Many thanks to Marketing Manager James Rodd who really does a fantastic job of getting future guests excited before and during their visit. And don’t forget to stay connected and Like their Facebook page here. At the Dive & Activity Center try the house reef exploration with resident marine biologist and earthcheck coordinator Ciara McCarten. She’s got an impressive wealth of knowledge on all things ocean and did we mention this place has the best house reef in the Maldives! They just started a new blog called The Wow Experience found here. Our scuba guide Ahmed Inah was as Maldivian as they get. He even had a spot a beautiful reef named Inah Thila after him 🙂 So that’s our review of the Park Hyatt Maldives, it’s important to note that with anywhere you travel we highly suggest absorbing the mindset, culture, and feel of the place. If you can do that you can enjoy, If not your context will hunt for things you can find wrong and that my friends is no vacation.